Kislak Center
for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts

A Raging Wit; The Life and Legacy of Jonathan Swift.

Exhibits from the Kislak Center

A Raging Wit

On exhibit February 5-May 16, 2018
Goldstein Family Gallery, Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center

In honor of the 350th anniversary of Jonathan Swift's birth, this exhibition, based on the collections of the Penn Libraries, will explore the many facets of Swift's life and legacy through an examination of his many voices; his complicated relationships with both men and women; his ever-evolving politics; his many travels, whether by foot, horse, or ship, or solely in his imagination; and his views on the role of religion in society. It will examine how these influences manifested themselves in his writings and in the world's reaction to his words. The 2018 Jay. I Kislak Program Jonathan Swift in the 21st Century will be held in conjunction with this exhibition in February 22-24.
For more information about the exhibit and conference registration

In Sight: Seeing the People of the Holy Land

On exhibit April 3, 2017-March 9 2018
Kamin Gallery, Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center

Early photographs of the Holy Land taken from the mid-nineteenth to the early-twentieth centuries by western photographers are famous for their timeless depictions of unpopulated landscapes and religious sites. This exhibition focuses on the different ways in which the Holy Land's inhabitants appear in these photographs and seeks to reclaim them as subjects in their own right, not merely as props in someone else's story. These images yield complicated realms of vision, imagination, artistic expression, and documentation and move from the studio to the dynamic activities of street life. For more information

Recent acquisition

Franklin's first Philadelphia Printing Job

Benjamin Franklin was perhaps the most globally influential American of the eighteenth century. Over the course of his long life he was a printer, writer, statesman, diplomat, inventor, and scholar. One of the Founding Fathers of the United States he was also a great Philadelphian, founding over half a dozen civic institutions in the city including what is now the University of Pennsylvania. However, Franklin started his life in Philadelphia in 1723 as a seventeen year old fugitive. He had just run away from an apprenticeship at his brother's print shop in Boston, breaking the terms of his indenture and the law. Fleeing first to New York, Franklin applied at a printer there who suggested instead that he travel to Philadelphia to work with his son, also a printer, whose assistant had recently died. When Franklin arrived in Philadelphia, the New York printer took him not to his sons--but to the shop of Samuel Keimer. At the time Franklin visited, Keimer was composing a piece honoring Aquila Rose, the young poet and printer's assistant whose death helped prompt Franklin's trip. Keimer asked him to return and print this piece himself shortly thereafter. This Elegy on the Death of Aquila Rose was the first work Franklin printed in Philadelphia. If he had not been successful in its execution, Franklin might well have moved on from Philadelphia without employment, changing the course of history. Until the discovery of the copy of the Elegy now at the Penn Libraries, no one had reported seeing one since the mid-nineteenth century. For more see Press Release